I was recently reading an article in the magazine "In Motion" a publication produced by the Amputee Coalition, about the statistics of employment with regard to amputees.
I found the statistics interesting because I felt as if my situation was an unusual one. As it turns out only 20% of wheelchair and walker users are employed. Think about that, 80% of persons in wheelchairs or those who use walkers are unemployed, a staggering statistic.
It has not been easy for me to try to earn extra income. Needless to say I cannot do the interior decorative painting I used to do and enjoyed doing so much. Imagine yourself suddenly unable to do a job you have trained so hard to do through education or actual experience and then not being able to do it any longer.
Occasionally I am able to sell some of my artwork and I feel blessed to be able to at least contribute a little to my income through my artisitic ability.
When you lose one limb, even above the knee, and if you were able to keep one natural leg intact, your life isn't nearly as dramatically impacted as when you lose both legs, especially both legs above the knee.
I have discussed in past blog posts the repercussions of bilateral above knee amputation. It is not easy to forestall feelings of guilt about your inability to remain financially independent, the toll it takes on your income and the emotional impact of it on your psyche.
The degree of difficulty you may find depends on many contributing factors surrounding your limb loss.
One consideration to take into account is what it was that lead to your disability. If you lost a limb(s) through a traumatic incident like an accident or an act of war, chances are after the long and arduous recovery period, the rest of your body may recover almost fully.
Contrast that scenario with limb loss attained through the progression of disease, such as diabetes or vascular issues. Those persons may never fully recover physically to the same degree that an individual who sustained traumatic injury was able to recover. However the psycohological impact of traumatic injury I feel is greater than loss through disease.
Those who have suffered limb loss through disease may have compromised blood flow throughout other areas of their body and have to deal with the actual degenerative nature of the disease as it progresses.
As we know my leg losses were through vascular issues, namely chronic blood clots resulting in poor blood flow to my legs and feet. These factors may have contributed to my compromised ability to walk again especially with regard to endurance.
My main point is that your capacity to seek and find employment is dependent upon many factors.
Another consideration is the age at which you lost your limbs, assuming they were not a congenitial disorder. The earlier in your life you have lost a limb, a sad and unfortunate happenstance at any age, can work to your advantage at least slightly because you are younger, presumably stronger and can adapt more readily to change.
Additionally, when you are young you can adapt your future vocation and educational level based on your disability, seeking education and or training that take into account what you are physically capable of doing.
When you suffer limb loss later in life, adjustment isn't as easy and there is not as much time to seek and fulfill further education to help you develop new skills more adapted to your disability.
I hope this does not come across to my readers as excuses for not trying to do your best in all circumstances. I am simply trying to point out factors and situations you may not have considered previously.
For me it has been a soul searching mission to try to figure out at age 55 (in three weeks) what I can and will do in my future to stay actively seeking ways to sustain my own well being. I am constantly searching for creative new ways of making money and will continue to do so.
Currently I make a meager contribution with my artwork, which could get better, and I am actively seeking a roommate to help contribute to my household income.
By the way having a sense of humor about your situation isn't a bad idea either.
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